Danette Wharton was quite a lady! A true Southern lady that always enjoyed the life of the Matriarch of Lancaster Oaks, a dressage/Trakehner breeding farm in Woodstock, GA. Always gracious, she knew how to make you feel welcomed when you were at the farm, whether you were a working student, boarder or one the many visitors that came to see her beloved Trakehners. "Danny", as she was known to all of us that knew and loved her, always loved to hear us talk about our horses and how they were doing in their training. And while she intently listened, it was clear that she knew that our world revolved around our horses, and likewise it was clear, that her world revolved around us.
She took great pride in all the animals at the farm - from the training horses to the new foals, right down to the dogs and oh all the cats! She was particularly adept at sneaking a barn cat or two into the house! But, they were all special. She truly loved them all.
She had a passion for gardening and tended to a lovely plot of land just off the screened porch of the house. That garden had such vibrant color and beauty that you knew it thrived because it was tended with love from her heart. She was always the entertainer and ever gracious when company arrived. When we would have a holiday party or a barn get together, she was always there working the crowd to make sure that everyone had what they needed and to be sure that a great time was had by all. She always thought of her daughter Laura's students as part of the family and you knew if you needed her, she would be there.
Danny's husband, Charles Wharton, was a former President and Board Member of the American Trakehner Association. She would often travel with Chuck to the ATA conventions to support both he and Laura's passion for the Trakehner breed. Family was very important to her and it showed. She also adored all of the horses, but always had a special place in her heart for her "baby" Justiz (Lancaster Oaks Homebred approved Trakehner stallion), keeping close tabs on his progression in training as well as his general well being (although she knew he was in Laura’s good hands!).
Both Chuck and Danny were instrumental in helping dressage get off the ground when it was in it's infancy in Georgia as well as the United States. Chuck became the President of the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association and they both worked tirelessly and with determination to see that dressage gained a foothold and flourished. After years of hard work, they both were the recipient of the "The Good Horseman’s Breeders Award for 2003" which is given for exemplary service to the sport of dressage, and it was well deserved.
Those of us who were lucky enough to know Danny will always be touched in our hearts and she will always carry a lasting impression on us for years to come. "Mom" I think I speak for us all when I say - we will miss you very much, but you will always be with us.
Anyone wishing to make a donation in Danette’s name can do so at Good Mews, a no-kill cat shelter in Marietta, GA. The website is http://www.goodmews.org/.